SciNews June 5, 2016

Synthesizing a human, millennials and food, Tesla Powerwalls, electric eels – and so much more to zap up your science class.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Synthetic human genome could make it possible to create humans who lack biological parents. CBC

A group of scientists on Thursday proposed an ambitious project to create a synthetic human genome, or genetic blueprint, in an endeavour that is bound to raise concerns over the extent to which human life can or should be engineered.

The project, which arose from a meeting of scientists last month at Harvard University, aims to build such a synthetic genome and test it in cells in the laboratory within 10 years. The project was unveiled in the journal Science by the experts involved. Read more…


Millennials distrustful of Canada’s food system, survey finds. Globe and Mail

Millennials are less trusting of the food system in this country, according to a new study.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity – a research group funded by the food industry – released results of a survey on public trust and food. The study reveals a shifting landscape regarding who Canadians view as trustworthy on food issues: away from traditional authorities such as government agencies and food associations, and towards family, friends and the Internet. Read more…



13698187_s from 123rf

Uh oh! Baby fish prefer plastic to real food. Science News for Students

Let a baby perch choose between a nutritious meal and a piece of plastic, and this little fish will go for the plastic. That’s the disturbing conclusion of a study to be published June 3 in the journal Science. It’s disturbing because eating plastic stunts the animals’ growth. It also alters the behavior of the baby fish. This new behavior makes them easier for predators to find — and gobble down as lunch. Read more…



18685938_s from 123rf

Tesla Powerwall will soon electrify Canada, but it may also jolt your wallet. Globe and Mail

The Tesla Powerwall home battery system should finally be appearing in the basements and garages of Canadian homes this summer, giving people a chance to store solar power or time-shift their electricity consumption. But there may be sticker shock: Installation is likely to double the $3,000 (U.S.) hardware price. Read more…


Retinal imaging could provide window into brain disease. Globe and Mail

In a small darkened room, a few minutes’ walk from the colourful sights of Toronto’s Kensington Market, my eyes have become the focus of attention. With my chin resting on a support, I stare at the glowing blue spot and, beside it, the face of Ann Lvin, a research assistant with the Kensington Eye Institute, as she fires an invisible laser beam straight into my right pupil. Read more…



Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Warming water temperatures likely causing ice loss in West Antarctic, says new study.  CBC

Part of the Antarctic’s ice has shrunk by about 1,000 square kilometres over the last 40 years, according to a new study.

The study, released by the University of Edinburgh and the American Geophysical Union, also notes that the area around the West Antarctic Bellingshausen Sea has been losing ice for longer than previously thought.

Read more…


This planet’s lightning storms are like nothing on Earth. Science News for Students

Hair standing on end during a thunderstorm is a bad sign. It means lightning is on its way. On one faraway planet, though, static hair might be the least of your worries.

The planet is HAT-P-11b. It is an exoplanet — a planet far outside Earth’s solar system — some 124 light-years away. Scientists detected a surge of radio waves from the planet several years ago. Those waves could be caused by a barrage of lightning striking 530 times as often per square kilometer (0.4 square mile) as storms do in the United States. Read more…






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